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Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall

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"An opinionated, stimulating account of how classical music failed to establish fruitful roots in America," Classical Music in America chronicles "a cultural attitude that has produced many fine artists and striking moments-but no institutional or intellectual support to sustain them" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). "An admirable, scholarly volume" (Times Literary Supple "An opinionated, stimulating account of how classical music failed to establish fruitful roots in America," Classical Music in America chronicles "a cultural attitude that has produced many fine artists and striking moments-but no institutional or intellectual support to sustain them" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). "An admirable, scholarly volume" (Times Literary Supplement), this "formidable book ... shows how American classical music became a ‘performance culture,' an ersatz-European showplace for celebrity virtuosos, rather than a native-born genre" (The New Yorker). "As a comprehensive, convincing analysis of the contemporary dilemma" of reconciling European heritage with American vision "and a riveting portrait of the century and a half of events and personalities which brought it about, Mr Horowitz's account would be hard to beat" (The Economist). "Anyone seeking to understand why American classical music has come to so dead an end-and wondering how it might yet escape a final descent into cultural irrelevance-should read Classical Music in America with close attention" (Commentary).


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"An opinionated, stimulating account of how classical music failed to establish fruitful roots in America," Classical Music in America chronicles "a cultural attitude that has produced many fine artists and striking moments-but no institutional or intellectual support to sustain them" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). "An admirable, scholarly volume" (Times Literary Supple "An opinionated, stimulating account of how classical music failed to establish fruitful roots in America," Classical Music in America chronicles "a cultural attitude that has produced many fine artists and striking moments-but no institutional or intellectual support to sustain them" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). "An admirable, scholarly volume" (Times Literary Supplement), this "formidable book ... shows how American classical music became a ‘performance culture,' an ersatz-European showplace for celebrity virtuosos, rather than a native-born genre" (The New Yorker). "As a comprehensive, convincing analysis of the contemporary dilemma" of reconciling European heritage with American vision "and a riveting portrait of the century and a half of events and personalities which brought it about, Mr Horowitz's account would be hard to beat" (The Economist). "Anyone seeking to understand why American classical music has come to so dead an end-and wondering how it might yet escape a final descent into cultural irrelevance-should read Classical Music in America with close attention" (Commentary).

30 review for Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dr John

    This is such a wonderful text replete with insight into the growth of classical music in the US since the late 19th century up until the end of the 20th century. Meticulously documented, there is, if it were possible, so much information that one might gasp at the breadth of information by saying it is too much. Ofcourse, as a historical document, these words can’t be uttered or written without showing some ignorance. What great fault that can be found in an otherwise glowing text is in the error This is such a wonderful text replete with insight into the growth of classical music in the US since the late 19th century up until the end of the 20th century. Meticulously documented, there is, if it were possible, so much information that one might gasp at the breadth of information by saying it is too much. Ofcourse, as a historical document, these words can’t be uttered or written without showing some ignorance. What great fault that can be found in an otherwise glowing text is in the error of omissions. For how does the author comment on the lack of American performers to achieve a worldwide respect, following, protracted careers, proponents of truly American music and not just as performers but in on case, a massive contributor as composer as well with not so much as even one mention of either virtuoso pianist Dr. Andre Watts and supervirtuoso pianist, Earl Wild? Watts, a phenomenal technician and superb musician was the only African-American pianist to achieve a sustained world class career as pianist and used the MacDowell Piano Concerto (a major work by an American composer) as one of his warhorse pieces to great acclaim. Mr. Horowitz mentions the staggering feat of Artur Rubinstein’s 132 concerts during some seasons but no mention of Watts’ 150 concerts in a season nor of his sustained work as a pedagogue. And of Earl Wild, the omission couldn’t possibly be an oversight for no career of any musician has been so heralded for so long up until his retirement after his last recital at the age of 92, while Horowitz respectfully reminds us of both Rubinstein and Aarau whose last recitals occurred in their 80’s. This can only be a willful omission for some reason to which the reader is not privy. One may infer the author may have a bias in favour of European artists although he decries the lack of an American school of composers and performers for a Wild was a prodigious composer, teacher and pianist but his only shortcoming (in truth it was an unfortunate circumstance having nothing to do with anything Wild did or didn’t do) was that he was a pianist on par with Horowitz - who was his very close friend - but Wild was a pre-eminent American pianist in a field of European pianists. Oddly enough, but true, the very night of Wild’s last recital at Carnegie Hall, Horowitz was playing at Lincoln Centre and expressed concern for his audience before the recital began because he said “...Earl Wild is very good!” In fact, Horowitz, at every recital at Carnegie Hall, saved on ticket at the box office for an front row orchestra seat for Earl Wild the event he was able to attend. Two major pieces of the puzzle that images the American classical music scene and life are noticeably, regrettably and irresponsibly extant in this otherwise wonderful but incomplete treatise.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robert Costic

    A truly comprehensive history of classical music in the United States. It’s thoroughness is also a bit of my criticism, which is that it’s so intent on covering every detail it can get bogged down into some extremely dry passages. One that immediately comes to mind was a blow-by-blow of when surtitles were introduced in each opera house, who introduced them, and who resisted them. I could finish this book only by glazing over such passages, but there is much else that is worthwhile.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I suspect this book has the impact in musicology that "The World is Flat" has had in other fields. I see it referenced in journal articles, speeches at conferences, and so on. Basically, Horowitz believes that since classical music is not native to the United States, it is destined to become instinct. He chronicles (in detail) the history of the symphony, opera, the composer, and the performer, by focusing on specific examples. It's actually a great study of American classical music history, eve I suspect this book has the impact in musicology that "The World is Flat" has had in other fields. I see it referenced in journal articles, speeches at conferences, and so on. Basically, Horowitz believes that since classical music is not native to the United States, it is destined to become instinct. He chronicles (in detail) the history of the symphony, opera, the composer, and the performer, by focusing on specific examples. It's actually a great study of American classical music history, even if you don't agree with his final conclusions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    Horowitz includes a great wealth of historical fact, of the sort which made the book an absorbing, obsessive read. Some of the book's orientation serves Horowitz's tendency to cultural hand-wringing (to wit: the subtitle, sensibly abandoned in the paperback reissue); but with judicious filtration, a very good book. Horowitz includes a great wealth of historical fact, of the sort which made the book an absorbing, obsessive read. Some of the book's orientation serves Horowitz's tendency to cultural hand-wringing (to wit: the subtitle, sensibly abandoned in the paperback reissue); but with judicious filtration, a very good book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Stepniak

    Horowitz builds his case during the first half of the book before making his argument (no spoilers here), which is fascinating. The exposure that this book gives to American composers of the 20th century makes it worth reading; the history lessons are engrossing. An American, upon reading this, will come away a little sad and quite proud.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Frank

  7. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelley

  10. 5 out of 5

    daniel

  11. 5 out of 5

    Narti

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pooria

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Oliveira

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Harrison

  17. 4 out of 5

    Howard Mandel

  18. 5 out of 5

    Claude Rothman

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bob Sitkowski

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This is actually two 200+-pages books in one: first the history of classical music organizations & leaders, and the second the rise of great performers: in the 19th century the concept of "classical music" developed, the idea that there was a body of artistically- and sometimes spiritually-elevated European compositions, as opposed to pop or folk music, and then there was an attempt to create an American national contemporary classical music, which ultimately failed, leaving a mostly static body This is actually two 200+-pages books in one: first the history of classical music organizations & leaders, and the second the rise of great performers: in the 19th century the concept of "classical music" developed, the idea that there was a body of artistically- and sometimes spiritually-elevated European compositions, as opposed to pop or folk music, and then there was an attempt to create an American national contemporary classical music, which ultimately failed, leaving a mostly static body of work along with a cult of virtuosic performance. This is an easy-to-read informative history with the Horowitz's agenda tacked on briefly at the end: musical relevance requires a central role for living composers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie Caton

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul Kouris

  25. 4 out of 5

    James S Fawley

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joshua K. Armstrong

  27. 4 out of 5

    Neil

  28. 4 out of 5

    Liquidyoga

  29. 4 out of 5

    Goldie Marie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jovany Agathe

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